Friday, May 9, 2014

An Elephant Seal Learns to Swim

Northern Elephant Seal Weaner.
C. Coimbra Photo
Did you know that when a northern elephant seal is born that it cannot swim like most other marine mammals?  

That is one of the reasons why an elephant seal must be born on land.

Did you know that a northern elephant seal pup can gain about 10 pounds a day by nursing on its mother's rich milk?  

Did you know that the pup's mother looses about 20 pounds a day while nursing her pup?

That is one of the reasons why she abandons her pup after just 4 weeks to return to sea.

How does the pup survive?

First, it weighs about 300 pounds when its mother leaves.  Now the pup is a weaner.  It joins other weaners in a "weaner pod" and rests until all the big adult elephant seals are off the beach--sometime near or in March.

Then the weaners play on the beach and in the water and teach themselves how to swim and dive.

When April nears, most of the weaners leave their birth beach and go out to sea for the first time.  They return sometime near September.

This video "Unaga Learns to Swim" shows a newborn pup through the day it finally leaves to go to sea.

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